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News Headlines & Trends

02.02.10 China warns Obama as Dalai Lama's reps play cards deftly

BEIJING, February 2 - China on Tuesday warned US president Barack Obama of a dangerous slide in Sino-US relationship if he ventured to meet the Dalai Lama. The warning, which came after the end of its talks with the Tibetan leader's envoys, shows Beijing is extremely worried about the international support he continues to receive. Such a meeting would "harm others but bring no profit to itself either," Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said. He said such a move would "violate international rules". China will take "necessary measures" to counter it. Beijing has also hit out against the claim that the Dalai Lama is the "legal representative" of Tibetans.

"The Chinese government and the government of Tibet Autonomous Region under its leadership are the only representatives of Tibetans," Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said...At the meeting, Dharmashala's envoys submitted a note that "made clear that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other members of the exiled leadership have no personal demands to make," a statement from the Tibetan leader's government in exile in India, said. "The fundamental issue that needs to be resolved is the faithful implementation of genuine autonomy that will enable the Tibetan people to govern themselves in accordance with their own genius and needs," the two envoys, Kasur Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, said in a statement.

02.02.10 Iran to hang nine more over election unrest

TEHRAN (Reuters) February 9 - Iran said on Tuesday it would soon hang nine more rioters over the unrest that erupted after the June presidential vote, and the leader of the opposition said such repression showed the 1979 Islamic revolution had failed. "Nine others will be hanged soon. The nine, and the two who were hanged on Thursday, were surely arrested in the recent riots and had links to anti-revolutionary groups," said senior judiciary official Ebrahim Raisi, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The two men hanged last week were among a group of 11 people sentenced to death on charges including "waging war against God" and being members of armed groups.

Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, former prime minister, said on Tuesday the repression showed the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the US-backed Shah "had not achieved its goals." "Filling the prisons and brutally killing protesters show that the root of ... dictatorship remain from the monarchist era," he said on his Kalemeh website. Influential cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the hangings and urged the judiciary on Friday to execute more.

02.02.10 Saudi Arabia wants Taliban to expel bin Laden

February 2 - Saudi Arabia will not get involved in peacemaking in Afghanistan unless the Taliban stops providing shelter and severs all ties with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is visiting Saudi Arabia hoping for an active Saudi role in his plan to persuade Taliban militants to switch sides. The Saudi conditions for participating in the talks with Taliban, especially expelling former Saudi citizen bin Laden, are not new, but Riyadh is restating them amid a new international push to work with the Afghan militants. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

02.02.10 US drones kill 17 in NWA

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, February 2 - At least 17 people were killed when numerous missiles fired from the US drones hit a suspected militant compound in North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, Geo reported Tuesday. Up to 18 missiles were fired from about five US spy aircraft on a militant compound in Dattakhel village, according to sources. At least 17 people were killed in the strikes and the toll is expected to rise. A number of US strikes in early January are reported to have targeted Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, but he then dispelled rumors of his death in an audio recording, also vowing revenge for the drone programme. [>thenews.com.pk; See related stories,

indianexpress.com, February 2, "Hakimullah's close aide killed in Jan. 14 drone attack"
: PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's close aide Qari Hussain, the trainer of suicide bombers, was killed in the same US drone attack that fatally injured him, sources said. The sources in Aurakzai tribal region, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, told that Qari Hussain died in the drone attack in Shaktoi area of North Waziristan on January 14. Wali-ur-Rehman, the chief military strategist of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and another close aide of Hakimullah Mehsud, too has been missing since that drone attack, the sources said.

Tribal elders and state-run PTV had said on Sunday that Mehsud had died of injuries sustained in the drone attack in the home of his father-in-law in Aurazkzai Agency. The government and the military did not confirm the death while the Taliban dismissed reports of Mehsud's demise as propaganda floated by security agencies. The central 'shura' or council of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has been considering the names of several militant commanders as a replacement for Mehsud, sources said. Among the names being considered by the shura are Malik Noor Jamal alias Maulana Toofan, Sayed Khan Mamozai, Ziaur Rehman alias Mulla Zaver, Gul Zaman and Daulat Khan. [end]

aljazeera.net, February 2, "Deaths in Pakistan 'drone' attack" : Missiles fired by suspected US drones have killed at least 17 people and wounded 15 others in Pakistan, residents and security officials say. Officials said the missiles rained down on the Degan area in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border, on Tuesday. They said the missiles struck suspected fighters' hideouts and a training centre. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, said there were reports that up to 19 missiles had been fired. "This would be the first time you get a coordinated attack by such a large group of drones since the attacks against targets inside Pakistan began. Seventeen people have been reported killed. However, there is mounting fear that the death toll could be at least over two dozen or even cross 30."...

cnn.com, February 2, "Drone strikes kill 29 in Pakistan" : ISLAMABAD - Suspected US drone strikes killed at least 29 people in several villages of northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, Pakistani intelligence sources said. Missiles hit targets in at least four villages in North Waziristan, a region rife with Islamic extremists, the sources said. The strikes happened in the Datta Khel area, which has been the center of much drone activity in the past few months. Sources said drone-fired missiles also hit the villages of Muhammad Khel, Pai Khel and Toor Narai...

02.02.10 Saving Russia's cedar forests 'key to Amur tiger conservation'

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) February 2 - The government should reintroduce a law banning the cutting down of cedar forests in Russia's Far East to save the rare Amur tiger, World Wildlife Fund Russia head Igor Chestin said on Tuesday. The law was revoked after the Russian Forest Code came into effect on January 1, 2007. "No cedar - no tiger. The habitat of this animal coincides with those areas where we find the cedar," Chestin said during a RIA Novosti press-conference. Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are classed as endangered by the World Conservation Union, with only about 500 tigers left in Russia's wild.

Since 2006, poachers have killed at least 10 of the rare animals in Russia's Far East. However, Russia is the only country to have seen tiger numbers rise since the middle of the 20th century and remain stable over the past ten years. Preserving cedar forests is of paramount concern to WWF Russia, as the cedar is at the base of the food pyramid topped by the Amur tiger. Last week, MPs in Russia's Far East Primorye Territory voted to include the cedar in the Red Book of endangered plants and animals. The decision has yet to be approved by the governor.
[>en.rian.ru; See related article,

worldwildlife.org, January 19, 2010, "New study shows Bengal Tiger's habitat in danger."
: A new study by WWF scientists and partner organizations has found global climate change could shrink Bangladesh's Sundarbans tiger habitat by 96 percent, potentially reducing the tiger population to fewer than 20 breeding individuals. An estimated sea level rise of 11.2 inches above 2000 levels by 2070 means this unique mangrove ecosystem could disappear within half a century. The Sundarbans delta is the largest mangrove forest in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is shared by India and Bangladesh and sits at the mouth of the Ganges River. It is home to an estimated 254-432 Bengal tigers, the only tiger population adapted to live in mangroves. The tigers here regularly swim between islands and are the only tigers to have crabs and other seafood as an important part of their diet...

02.01.10 In $3.8 trillion budget, Obama pivots to trim future deficits

WASHINGTON, February 1 - President Obama sent Congress on Monday a proposed budget of $3.8 trillion for the fiscal year 2011, saying that his plan would produce a decade-long reduction in the deficit from $1.6 trillion this year, a shortfall swollen by $100 billion in additional tax cuts and public works spending that he is seeking right away. "We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences, as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard-earned tax money of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money," Mr. Obama said at the White House. But at the end of the decade, the yearly deficits would begin moving up again, as the projected costs of health and retirement programs for an aging population start to escalate, according to forecasts in the administration's new blueprint...The president said that the proposed budget was built around the goal of turning the country around "after what can only be described as a decade of profligacy." [Full story>>nytimes.com; See other details,

cbsnews.com, February 1, "Obama budget projects $1.56 trillion deficit" :
...The president blamed the huge deficit on the decisions of President George W. Bush, previous Congresses and his administration's steps to prevent an economic collapse. "The fact is, 10 years ago, we had a budget surplus of more than $200 billion, with projected surpluses stretching out toward the horizon, Mr. Obama said. "Yet over the course of the past 10 years, the previous administration and previous Congresses created an expensive new drug program, passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and funded two wars without paying for any of it all of which was compounded by recession and by rising health care costs."......

cnn.com, February 1, "Things you should know about the budget."

For history of presidential deficits, see
Maravot News National Debt.html.

02.01.10 Pakistan offensive 'kills 34 militants' after bombing

KHAR, Pakistan (AFP) February 1 - Pakistani officials said Monday that troops backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships killed 34 militants in the wake of a suicide attack near the Afghan border. The paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) has stepped up an offensive targeting Taliban havens in Bajaur district as Pakistan intensifies raids around the towns of Mamoond and Salarzai. "A total of 34 militants have been killed and an unknown number of them were injured in two days,” Abdul Malik, a local administrative official told AFP by telephone. “Ground troops pounded the hideouts with artillery while fighter jets carried air strikes and gunship helicopters shelled their bases," he added.

In a statement Monday the FC said one soldier was killed and 11 wounded in clashes which followed an ambush on a military checkpoint by a suicide bomber who killed 17 people in the district's main town of Khar on Saturday. Mamoond, around 12 kilometers (eight miles) northwest of Khar, and neighboring Salarzai are notorious Taliban hideouts which Pakistan failed to clear in past offensives against militant havens. Pakistan has slapped a curfew on Khar, Mamoond and Salarzai and has closed all major roads in the area.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, February 1, "12 suspectes arrested from Swat, SWA - ISPR report"
: WANA - Twelve suspected militants have been apprehended in the ongoing operations in Swat and South Waziristan during the last 24 hours. In operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation at Sarai Naurang on Jandola Sector and apprehended 1 terrorist, according to ISPR on Monday. On Shakai Sector, security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Aspana Raghzai near Nanu, Zhawar Shabi Khel near Dwatoi and recovered [a] cache of arms and ammunition. Terrorists fired on security forces deployed in Trikli Kuhrai and Laghar Sar, Badar valley, which was effectively responded.

On Razmak Sector, security forces carried out [a] search and clearance operation at Khajuri and apprehended 1 suspect. Terrorists fired on PTCL post near Miranshah Camp which was effectively responded. In Operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat–Malakand, security forces carried out search and clearance operation[s] at Chakesar, Manglour, Qambar, Adbarabad and apprehended 7 suspects along with [a] cache of arms and ammunition. Three suspected terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Langar near Khawazakhela and Maniari. [end]

02.01.10 N. Africa Qaeda offers to help Nigerian Muslims

February 1 - Offering training & weapons to fight Christians. An al-Qaeda group in North Africa has offered to give Nigerian Muslims training and weapons to fight Christians in the West African country, where more than 460 people were killed in sectarian clashes last month. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan sent in the military to halt the violence after four days of clashes between Christian and Muslim mobs armed with guns, knives and machetes in the area round the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

"We are ready to train your people in weapons, and give you whatever support we can in men, arms and munitions to enable you to defend our people in Nigeria," the statement by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said. It was signed in the name of Abu Mus'ab Abdel-Wadoud, who was described as the "emir", or leader, of the group, and appeared on Islamic websites that often carry statements from groups using the al-Qaeda name around the world.

02.01.10 Woman suicide bomber kills 41 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) February 1 - A woman suicide bomber walking among Shiites in northern Baghdad detonated an explosives belt on Monday, killing at least 41 people and wounding more than 100, officials said. The bombing was the first major strike this year against Shiites making their way to the southern city of Karbala to mark a Shiite ceremony. It raised fears of an escalation of attacks when the ceremony culminates on Friday. The bomber hid the explosives underneath an abaya a black cloak worn from head to toe by women as she joined a group of people on the outskirts of the Shiite-dominated neighbourhood of Sha'ab, said Major General Qasim Al Mousawi, Baghdad's top military spokesman. A police official said 41, including a number of women and children, were killed and 106 were wounded. [More>>gulfnews.com]

02.01.10 Kuwait Qaeda-linked cell plotted to attack US base

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) February 1 - Six Kuwaiti citizens with alleged links to al-Qaeda had plotted to attack a major US military base in the Gulf emirate, a Kuwaiti secret service officer told a criminal court on Monday. The officer's remarks appeared to contradict the view of the public prosecutor who, when the trial opened in December, withdrew the key conspiracy charge against the six Kuwaitis. The officer, who identified himself as Abdel Aziz Salem, said during Monday's hearing that the investigation he carried out shows the suspects also planned similar attacks on US military targets in Bahrain. He said they were in contact with some people in the Gulf state and that he received information about the plot from “secret sources in Kuwait and also from Bahrain” which led to the arrest in August of five of the suspects. The sixth suspect is already serving a life term in jail for an attack in 2002 on the US military in Kuwait that left one American soldier dead. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

02.01.10 Somali Islamists al-Shabab "join al-Qaeda fight'

February 1 - Somali Islamist rebel group al-Shabab has confirmed for the first time that its fighters are aligned with al-Qaeda's global militant campaign. The group said in a statement that the "jihad of Horn of Africa must be combined with the international jihad led by the al-Qaeda network." Meanwhile, several people have died in fighting in Mogadishu after government troops shelled militant positions. Islamist insurgents control much of southern and central Somalia. The government, which is backed by the UN and African Union, holds sway only in a small part of Mogadishu. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

02.01.10 Yemen arrests coutry's second arms dealer

SANAA, Yemen, February 1 - Yemen on Sunday arrested the second biggest arms dealer in the country just days after the capture of another top dealer, whose weapons depot was stolen by rebels fighting the government in the north, Al Arabiya TV reported. Hussein Hussein was arrested along with his son "without confrontation" in northern Saada province and were transported by helicopter to the capital Sanaa, a local security source said. The arrest came four days after authorities arrested Sheikh Fares Manaa, a brother of Saada's governor, and the biggest arms dealer in the country. [More>>alarabiya.net]

02.01.10 DPRK newspaper urges US to give up Cold War mindset

PYONGYANG, North Korea, February 1 - The Rodong Simun newspaper of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) urged the United States on Monday to give up the Cold War mindset and conclude a peace treaty. The official newspaper said in a commentary that the DPRK proposal for a peace treaty was an "agile project" and the DPRK made sincere efforts for its implementation. The US should take a positive attitude toward replacing the Korean War Armistice Agreement which was signed in 1953, with a peace treaty instead of intensifying the situation, said the commentary. It noted that replacing the the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty is the prerequisite for peace in the Korean Peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia at present. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

01.31.10 Japan's whalers are at sea again, harvesting meat that few will eat

January 31 -By April, another 900 whales will have died for little profit. So what drives the Japanese to go on defying world opinion? In an annual ritual as seemingly unstoppable as the tides, Japan's whaling fleet is again ploughing the Southern Ocean hunting and killing whales. Bitterly criticized, harried by eco-warriors on Sea Shepherd's ships and tracked by the world's media, the fleet may be slowed but it won't be stopped. On its return to port in April, the refrigerated holds are likely to be stuffed with the meat from 850 minkes and 50 fin whales. Next year, 50 endangered humpbacks could be added to the list. Japan has so far been largely inoculated from debate on the annual cull, but that may be about to change.

Next month sees the first public hearing in the trial of Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, accused of trespass and theft in their attempt to expose the embezzlement of whale meat by crew members on board the fleet, who sold it for personal gain. Activists believe the so-called Tokyo Two case could put the entire whaling programme in Japan on trial.

Japan's stubbornness on whaling is one of the mysteries of world diplomacy. Why does the country turn angry and unyielding when it comes to whaling? Why does it continue to snub one of the environmental movement's few lasting triumphs: the 1986 moratorium on commercial hunts?...Clearly, it is not because Japan's citizens love whale meat. A 2006 Greenpeace survey concluded that 95 percent of Japanese had "never or very rarely eaten" it.

Outside of a handful of local ports, fresh whale is as rare as, say, veal, in the UK. Pro-whalers respond that it is so only because foreign pressure has made the meat so expensive to harvest. But even after the 1986 international whaling moratorium and the start of Japan's "scientific" whaling, 70 tons of whale meat was left unsold from a catch of 1,873 tons after the fleet returned to port in spring 2001
a fraction of the 230,000 metric tons consumed in the peak whaling year of 1962. Although some middle-aged citizens remain fond of it, most youngsters would rather eat almost anything else.[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

01.31.10 Watchdog: Bank bailouts created more risk in system

January 31 - The problems that led to the last financial crisis have not yet been addressed, and in some cases have grown worse, says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the trouble asset relief program, or TARP. The quarterly report to Congress was released Sunday. The government's bailout of financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" has created a risk that the United States could face a worse fiscal meltdown in the future, an independent watchdog assigned to review the program told Congress on Sunday. The Troubled Assets Relief Program, known as TARP, has not addressed the problems that led to the last crisis and in some case those problems have festered and are a bigger threat than before, warned Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general at the Treasury Department.

"Even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car," Barofsky wrote. Barofsky wrote the $700 billion financial bailout has encouraged more risk-taking because bank executives, who are still receiving massive bonuses, figure the government will come to the rescue the next time they steer their ships nearly aground. "The market mentality now seems fixed that the US government will continue to step in and bail out giant financial institutions," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "The IG's findings confirm my decision to oppose releasing $350 billion in TARP funds last year and my recent vote to terminate the program altogether."

01.31.10 Pakistan checks reported death of Taliban chief

ISLAMABAD (AP) January 31 - The Pakistani army said Sunday that it was investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a US drone missile strike in mid-January. The army's announcement came shortly after Pakistani state television reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan's northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries. "We have these reports coming to us," army spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press. "We are investigating whether it is true or wrong." A tribal elder told the AP that he attended Mehsud's funeral in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai on Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the Taliban. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

01.31.10 Iranian hackers attack Dutch Persian website

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) January 31 - Iranian Hackers attack "treasonous mercenaries." Hackers calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army hijacked the website of a Dutch-based Persian language radio station at the weekend, weeks after doing the same to China's Baidu Inc search engine and Twitter.com. Since early Saturday, visitors to the website of Dutch government-funded Radio Zamaneh, which reports on human rights and unrest in Iran, have seen the message "this web site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army" followed by a warning in Persian:

"Iranian Cyber Army warns all treasonous mercenaries that it will not leave them at peace even in the bosom of their masters."

The radio station is trying to regain control of the site and expects to be back online on Monday, editor-in-chief Farid Haerinejad told Reuters. The home page of microblogging website Twitter was replaced with a similar headline and an anti-American message in December. China's top search engine, Baidu Inc recently experienced a similar hijack. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.31.10 Jordan arrests militants linked to Israeli attack

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) January 31 - A Jordanian security official says authorities have arrested dozens of Muslim militants in connection with a failed bomb attack on Israeli diplomats. The official said Sunday that dozens have been detained in a police crackdown mostly on Salafists — militants who seek to revive strict Muslim doctrine dating back to the era of the 6th Century Prophet Muhammad. He said the crackdown was continuing across Jordan. The official declined to provide other details and insisted on anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media. No one was killed or injured in the Jan. 14 attack on a convoy of Israeli diplomats heading home for the weekend. It was the first roadside bombing in Jordan and exposed a security gap for Israeli diplomats. [>khaleejtimes.com]

01.31.10 Egypt police arrest 'jihadist cell' planning attacks on Israelis

January 31 - Prosecutors say new Islamist group tried to target the shrine of Rabbi Abu Hasira in the Nile delta. Egyptian police have arrested at least 23 men suspected of plotting attacks against Israeli visitors to Egypt, US ships in the Suez Canal, and of trying to join the 'jihad' in Darfur, Interior Ministry sources said Sunday. The men were arrested in Mansoura, northeast of Cairo, two months ago. Authorities claim they are members of a new Islamic militant group.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, government sources said that Egypt's domestic intelligence service, State Security Investigations, had confiscated "a large amount" of explosives, including material similar to that used in the Qassam rockets Hamas has fired at Israel, in a raid earlier this month. They said a State Security prosecutor has accused the group of 23 men of plotting attacks against the Nile delta shrine of Abu Hasira, a 19th century rabbi whose grave is a pilgrimage site for Jews.

The group was also accused of training with live ammunition at a desert camp near the Mediterranean town of Damietta, of trying to join the "jihad" in the Sudanese province of Darfur, of plotting attacks against US ships in the Suez Canal and against banks in Alexandria and Cairo. Cairo's independent daily al-Masry al-Youm on Sunday called the group the first "armed jihadist" organization arrested in the country since Egypt's battle with Islamist militants in the 1990s. The daily said the men were arrested "several weeks ago" and that they had confessed to following the ideas of Sayid Qutb, an Egyptian writer commonly identified as the modern father of Islamist political thought.

01.30.10 Obama pledges action to rein in federal deficits

January 30 - Pledging to curb federal budget deficits, President Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to praise the Senate's passage of a measure requiring that increased spending be offset with cuts and to tout his proposed freeze on non-discretionary budget spending. "As we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we've been accumulating for far too long — deficits that won't just burden our children and grandchildren, but could damage our markets, drive up our interest rates, and jeopardize our recovery right now," Obama said.

..Obama, in his radio address, once again compared a family's budget to what the government must do. "There are certain core principles our families and businesses follow when they sit down to do their own budgets. They accept that they can't get everything they want and focus on what they really need. They make tough decisions and sacrifice for their kids. They don't spend what they don't have, and they make do with what they've got," he said. He continued:

"It's time their government did the same. That's why I'm pleased that the Senate has just restored the pay-as-you-go law that was in place back in the 1990s. It's no coincidence that we ended that decade with a $236 billion surplus. But then we did away with PAYGO — and we ended the next decade with a $1.3 trillion deficit. Reinstating this law will help get us back on track, ensuring that every time we spend, we find somewhere else to cut."

Editorial note: Regarding the "$236 billion surplus" : The public debt for fy 2001 was $5.807 trillion. That year there was no deficit, but rather a surplus of $128 billion (which could have been used to pay down the public debt, but his successor, George W. Bush spent the surplus. In fy 2002, the first full year of George W. Bush's term of office, the public debt rose to $6.228 trillion, with a deficit of $157 billion.

But there were other surpluses of the Clinton administration besides fy 2001: fy 2000 the public debt was $5.674 trillion, with a surplus of $236 billion; fy 1999 the public debt was $5.526 trillion with a surplus of $125.6 billion. fY 1998 the public debt was $5.526 trillion with a surplus of $69.3 billion. In fy 1997 the public debt was $5.413 trillion with a deficit of $21.9 billion. For other years and presidential deficits, see Maravot News National Debt.html.

The original idea for "pay-as-you-go" came from the Republicans under the lead of Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" plan. Clinton bought into it and during his years from 1998 to 2001 the nation enjoyed economic prosperity — without deficits — along with paying down the public debt.

Mel Copeland

01.30.10 Iran starts trial of 16 post-election protestors

TEHRAN, January 30 - Opposition leaders condemn execution of dissidents. Iran put on trial on Saturday 16 anti-government protesters, including two women, who were arrested on the Shiite mourning day of Ashura, the official IRNA news agency reported. Five of the defendants are accused of being mohareb (enemies of God) and corrupt on earth, both crimes punishable by death under the Iranian legal system, which is based on sharia, Islamic law, IRNA said. The rest are accused of "gathering and conspiring against security, propaganda against the system and seeking to harm security by inciting unrest and riot," it said.

The semi-official Isna news agency quoted the deputy Tehran prosecutor as saying that of the 16, one was a member of the outlawed Baha'i faith, one was a communist and some of the rest belonged to the counterrevolutionary group Mojahedin Khalq Organization. Ashura demonstrations on Dec. 27 were the bloodiest showdown in months between anti-government protesters and security forces. About 1,000 people were arrested and eight killed, including the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. The trial comes after Iran drew international condemnation by executing two dissidents on Thursday.

01.30.10 Ahmadinejad: Whoever controls the ME controls world's wealth

January 30 - Iranian president quoted as telling Teheran audience "In terms of economic issues, the world hegemonic system ... is no longer powerful from the military aspect." Whoever controls the world's "energy and wealth," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted by IRNA as saying Saturday. Ahmadinejad told an audience in Teheran, “Many countries have, unsuccessfully, tried during the past years to become a superpower in the region but they failed as they play no role at the international equations.” "It is now clear that whoever dominates the Middle East can rule the entire world too," he added. According to the Iranian official news agency, Ahmadinejad also predicted the end of the world hegemonic system, as international problems had not been resolved. "In terms of economic issues, the world hegemonic system reached a deadline while regarding political events, it failed to solve the existing problems and is no longer powerful from the military aspect,," he was quoted as saying. [More>>jpost.com]

01.30.10 US speeding up missile defenses in Persian Gulf

WASHINGTON, January 30 - The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of a series of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials. The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama's dealings with Iran's leadership, when he is warning that his diplomatic outreach will now be combined with the “consequences,” as he put it in the State of the Union address, of the country's continued defiance on its nuclear program.

The administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Western nations say controls the military side of the nuclear program. As part of that effort, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly warned China on Friday that its opposition to sanctions was shortsighted. The Senate, meanwhile, last week unanimously approved a resolution authorizing sanctions that include cutting off gasoline to Iran, a step Mr. Obama's aides say he is reluctant to take. The deployments are partly intended to address American concerns about possible retaliation for whatever sanctions are imposed. The administration is also trying to demonstrate to Israel that there is no immediate need for military strikes against Iranian nuclear and missile facilities.

01.30.10 Interpreter kills two US soldiers in Afghanistan: NATO

KABUL (AFP) January 30 - An Afghan interpreter working for the US military has shot dead two American soldiers in Afghanistan, an officer with NATO forces said Saturday. The officer, who asked not to be named, said the incident happened on Friday in Wardak province, near the capital Kabul, but could give no further details. NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said late on Friday that "two US service members and one US employee were killed" in an incident in eastern Afghanistan that was being investigated. An ISAF spokesman told AFP the “employee” was an American civilian but the NATO officer confirmed he was an Afghan national employed by the US military. No other details were available, he said. Incidents of Afghans attacking foreign troops are not common in Afghanistan, where 113,000 foreign troops are fighting a Taliban-led insurgency, with another 40,000 due to be deployed this year. [More.>khaleejtimes.com]

01.30.10 Saudis 'mediating Taliban talks'

January 30 - Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister of Afghanistan, has told Al Jazeera that reconciliation talks with the Taliban are under way. Ghani, currently a senior fellow for the Brookings Institution in Washington, said that Saudi Arabia had been active in mediation. "There are people [doing] mediaton in the of kingdom of Saudi Arabia and his majesty the King of Saudi Arabia has been involved and others have been involved," he said. At a conference in London earlier in the week, officials announced that "moderate" Taliban would be urged to enter talks with the government and a new fund would be set up to encourage fighters to lay down their arms. [More>>aljazeera.net]

01.30.10 Italy halts bluefin fishing for a year: EU

BRUSSELS (AFP) January 30 - Italy is to stop fishing for bluefin tuna, the lucrative but over-exploited species beloved of Japanese sushi fans, for 12 months, the European Union said on Saturday. The move, enabled by financial aid from Brussels set aside for the forced tying-up of boats, comes weeks ahead of a European decision on whether to back calls for the fish to be officially listed as an endangered species. Italy's intention is to pressure neighboring Atlantic and Mediterranean fishing giants France and Spain into doing likewise, to allow the world's remaining stocks of the luxury fish to be replenished. It may however result in the price of bluefin shooting even higher. A 232.6-kilogramme (512-pound) fish sold for 16.28 million yen (176,000 dollars or 127,000 euros) at auction in Japan earlier this month.

"Member states can do a voluntary freeze on fishing for a year if they want to," said European Commission agriculture spokesman Michael Mann. "There is a possibility in the European Fisheries Fund to give fishermen money if they are required to stop fishing for a particular type of fish. That's what's happening here. The moratorium applies to the big guys who are catching a lot of tuna. It's not new money — its an existing mechanism," he underlined. Italian fisheries minister Antonio Buonfiglio said Rome has "decided to tie up the boats because the situation was untenable from an ecological and economic point of view." The Italian fleet runs to 49 huge trawlers, with almost 700 fishermen's livelihoods at stake, and Buonfiglio said they “will receive European aid in exchange” for staying put for a year.

01.30.10 China to halt military exchanges, punish US companies for arms sales to Taiwan

BEIJING, January 30 - Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that China will postpone bilateral military programs and security talks and punish certain US companies in response to the US government's greenlight on new shipments of advanced weapons to Taiwan. According to a press release of the Foreign Ministry, China has decided to partially halt the exchange programs between the militaries of the two countries, as well as the vice-ministerial consultation on strategic security, arms control and anti-proliferation, which was originally scheduled to be held soon. China will also impose sanctions on the US companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan, the press release says. Sources from the Foreign Ministry said China-US cooperation on major regional and international issues will also be inevitably affected by the issue. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

01.30.10 12 killed, 24 injured in suicide blast in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, January 30 - A suicide attacker blew himself up in a crowded market in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region, killing at least 12 people and injuring 24 others. The bomber detonated his explosives when he was stopped by security personnel at a check post in the main market of Khar, the headquarters of Bajaur Agency, witnesses said. Local officials said 12 people, including two security personnel, were killed in the attack. Twenty-four others, including several security personnel, were injured. Officials said the toll could rise as the market was crowded at the time of the attack. There were also reports of firing following the blast. However, it was not clear who had opened fire. The bomber was aged between 18 and 23 years and witnesses said his head and legs had been found. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, January 30, "9 killed as violence erupts in Karachi"
: KARACHI - At least nine people have been killed while more than a dozen others sustained injuries as violence incidents continued in various parts of the city on Saturday. As per details, several firing incidents were reported during the last 24 hours in different areas of Karachi including Liaqatabad, Orangi Town, Qasba Colony and Muslim Colony, killing nine persons. The recent wave of killing started last night from Qasba Colony, where two persons died including a MQM's office bearer when unidentified gunmen opened indiscriminate fire and managed to flee from the scene. After the incident, some unknown men started firing in the area, resultantly eight people were injured. The violence continued on Saturday as six other people were gunned down and seven others sustained bullet injuries when some armed men sprayed them with bullets in Orangi Town, Manghopir and Sultanabadand areas...

thenews.com.pk, January 30, "Security forces nab 10 militants in SWA: ISPR report" :
RAWALPINDI - Ten suspected militants have been killed in the ongoing operations in South Waziristan and Swat during the last 24 hours. According to ISPR on Saturday, on Jandola Sector, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation as part of Operation Rah-e-Nijat at Jani Khel near Sein Tanga and apprehended 1 terrorist. Security forces carried out sanitization of Ditta Wall, Spedorai near Dawatoi, Shinkai near Biland Khel and Sarmashai Raghzai near Kacharai Narai and recovered [a] cache of arms and ammunition. On Shakai Sector, security forces carried out [a] search and clearance operation at Shamkai near Nanu and recovered [a] huge cache of arms and ammunition. Razmak Sector. Security forces carried out sanitization and consolidation of their positions in Razmak Sector. In Operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat–Malakand, security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Sar Cheema (Asharai), Asharbanr, Allahabad, Dakorak near Charbagh, Manglour, Sar Qala, Kotah and Nawan Killi, apprehended 7 suspects and recovered [a] cache of arms and ammunition. Two suspects voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Arambagh and Sar. As many as 30,916 Cash Cards have been issued to displaced families of Waziristan. [end]

independent.co.uk (AP) January 30, "Nine die in missile strikes as Taliban deny meeting with UN" : Suspected US missiles hit a compound and a bunker in Pakistan's tribal region today, killing nine militants as part of an unprecedented wave of strikes since a deadly attack against the CIA across the border in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said. Three missiles targeted Taliban militants this morning in the Mohammad Khel area of North Waziristan, where militant groups blamed for launching attacks on American and NATO troops across the border are based. The mountainous area is where a suspected US drone is reported to have crashed on January 24. Two missiles in today's attack hit the compound being used by the militants, killing seven of them, intelligence officials said. The third killed two more insurgents in the bunker. Another such strike early this month targeted a meeting of militant commanders in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to kill Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud...

01.30.10 Iraq suicide and grenade attacks kill two

(AFP) January 30 - A suicide bomber blew himself up inside an Iraqi restaurant used by police and anti-al-Qaeda militiamen on Saturday, killing one person and wounding 20 others, police said. The attack occurred at 6.05pm last night in Samarra, a city located 110 kilometers north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province, a police official said. The restaurant is a known haunt for police and members of the Sahwa (Awakening) movement, known as the "Sons of Iraq" by the US army, which joined American and Iraqi forces in 2006 and 2007 to fight al-Qaeda and its supporters, leading to a dramatic fall in violence across the country. [More>>news.com.au]

01.30.10 Germany mulls French-style burqa man

BERLIN (RIA Novosti) January 30 - As France has moved closer to a ban on burqas, German politicians are debating whether a similar measure was necessary in their own country, national media reported. According to DDP, after a French parliamentary commission ruled earlier this week that the enveloping garment worn by some Islamic women is unacceptable and recommended a ban in schools and public offices, former Social Democratic parliamentarian, Turkish-German Lale Akgun made as case for a similar ban in Germany.

"The burqa is a full-body prison that deeply threatens human rights," she told daily Frankfurter Rundschau. "It would be an important signal for Germany to ban the burqa." A burqa ban in German should include schools, universities, and high-security zones such as banks and airports, she said. However, fellow party member Dieter Wiefelspütz rejected the suggestion.
"We have a different understanding of freedom than the French," he told the paper, adding that an enlightened Islam could not be forced. Green party leader Cem Ozdemir said the debate overlooked the real conflict of integration, stressing that the number of women who wear burqas in Germany is low. [>en.rian.ru]

01.29.10 US economy grew at fastest pace in 6 years last quarter

January 29 - The United States economy grew at its fastest pace in over six years at the end of 2009, but a sluggish job market is still souring economists on the sustainability of the recovery. Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, after growing at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in the previous quarter. Analysts had forecast annualized growth of 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter, and the better-than-expected result sent stocks higher Friday morning, though they fell back at midday. The strong growth in the fourth quarter capped a year of the biggest contraction since 1946, when the country was still cooling off from World War II. The Obama administration seized the news as an opportunity to push its proposed tax credit for companies that hire more employees. "Now's the perfect time for this kind of incentive because the economy is growing but businesses are still hesitant to start hiring again," President Obama said in a speech in Baltimore. [More>>nytimes.com]

01.29.10 Russia unveils its first stealth fighter

January 29 - Russia has unveiled its new stealth fighter jet, meant to boost the country's ageing arsenal of weaponry and be a rival to the US F-22 Raptor. The Sukhoi T-50, also called the PAK FA, made its maiden flight in Russia's far east. Test pilot Sergei Bogdan said it was "easy and comfortable to pilot." Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said much work needed to be done before mass production began in 2015. Stealth technology is meant to nearly eliminate a plane's radar signature. The plane is being developed by the Sukhoi company at its Komsomolsk-on-Amur production plant. The new jet has been developed in partnership with India.

It is seen as a significant milestone in Russia's efforts to modernise its Soviet-era military hardware. Sukhoi's director Mikhail Pogosyan said he was convinced that the project would "excel its Western rivals in cost-effectiveness and will not only allow strengthening of the defence power of the Russian and Indian air forces, but also gain a significant share of the world market."...Its features include: all-weather capability, ability to use a take-off strip of just 300-400 metres, capacity for sustained supersonic flight including repeated in-flight refuelling, advanced avionics, simultaneous attacks on air and ground targets.
[Full story>>bbc.co.uk ; See other details, en.rian.ru, January 29, "Russia draws back veil of secrecy with peek at future fighter"

01.29.10 Egypts' fertile Nile Delta falls prey to climate change

ROSETTA, Egypt (AFP) January 29 - The Nile Delta, Egypt's bread basket since antiquity, is being turned into a salty wasteland by rising seawaters, forcing some farmers off their lands and others to import sand in a desperate bid to turn back the tide. Experts warn that global warming will have a major impact in the delta on agriculture resources, tourism and human migration besides shaking the region's fragile ecosystems. Over the last century, the Mediterranean Sea, which fronts the coast of the Nile Delta, has risen by 20 centimeters (six inches) and saltwater intrusion has created a major challenge, experts say. A recent government study on the coast of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, expects the sea to continue to rise and flood large swathes of land. "A 30 centimeter rise in sea level is expected to occur by 2025, flooding approximately 200 square kilometers (77 square miles). As a result, over half a million inhabitants may be displaced and approximately 70,000 jobs could be lost," the study said. [More>>arabtimesonline.com]

01.29.10 Italy mulls emulating France on burqa ban

(Reuters) January 29 - Italy may soon seek a ban on full-face Muslim veils, drawing on debate in France where President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the burqa as unwelcome. In France legislators are considering a vote to outlaw or restrict the use of burqa. Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna has said the Italian government will quickly follow in France's footsteps, breathing new life into four draft bills on burqas already circulating in parliamentary committees.

"I completely agree with the French initiative, which I think will push other European countries and hence, also Italy, to enact laws on this issue," Carfagna said this week. "This is about a sacrosanct battle to defend the dignity and rights of immigrant women. A law is being studied that would ban the use of a burqa and niqab, which are not religious symbols — that's not us saying it, but the top religious authorities of the Islamic world, like the imams of Cairo and Paris." Her comments came after a French parliamentary panel this week urged the National Assembly to pass a resolution denouncing full Muslim face veils and then vote on the strictest law possible to ban women from wearing them. Critics see the Burqa, a full veil with a slit for the eyes. as a symbol of the subjugation of women.

In Italy, the initiative has drawn strong support from the far-right, anti-immigrant Northern League party in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government, though some opposition figures have also applauded the move. In deeply Catholic Italy — where a European court ruling against crucifixes in classrooms sparked a national uproar — a few small northern towns have already tried to ban burqas with local decrees, though some of those were later annulled. The ban initiative also looks to have the backing of most Italians. A poll by the SWG polling group showed 71 percent of Italians were in favour of a ban on full face veils.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com;See related story,

gulfnews.com, January 29, "Muslim player banned from wearing veil in Switzerland"
: BERN - A Swiss girl of Iraqi origin has failed to overturn a ban on wearing a headscarf while playing league basketball matches in Switzerland. Sura Al Shawk, 19, was last August told by the basketball association (ProBasket) that she was not allowed to play for her STV Luzern club with the head scarf. The association said that the veil was a visible religious symbol and that the game needed to remain religiously neutral. Sura contested the decision and in November filed a case, supported by Daniel Vischer, a local MP representing the Green Party. But, the court on Thursday supported the association's claims and said that the overall safety regulations and compliance with regulations came ahead of Sura's personal interests and wish to wear a headscarf. Sura has ten days to appeal the ruling. [end]

01.29.10 Official: 30 militants killed in Pakistan

KHAR, Pakistan (AP) January 29 - A Pakistani government official says security forces have killed 30 militants in the past 72 hours in clashes near the Afghan border. Abdul Kabir said fighting was continuing Friday in the Bajur region. He said several soldiers have been injured. The Pakistan army launched a major operation in Bajur in 2008 that it claimed had cleared the area of militants, but clashes have continued since then. [>thejakartapost.com; See other details / related stories,

thenews.com.pk, January 29, "7 members of banned outfit held in Mianwali"
: MIANWALI - Law enforcement agencies have arrested 7 terrorists including key member of a banned outfit, Usman, from Mianwali. According to sources, detainees include 2 suicide attackers, who were planning to target DCO office in Sargodha and other important buildings. They were traced over the hints given by 2 alleged terrorists already under police custody. The network of detainees carried out a number of terrorists' activities, including attacks in Rawalpindi. The arrested also gave hints about attack on Khosa House in Dera Ghazi Khan and the culprits have been identified, sources added. [end]

thenews.com.pk, January 29, "12 militants killed in Mohmand, Bajaur"
: PESHAWAR - Security forces have killed 12 terrorists during operations in Mohmand and Bajaur Agencies on Friday. Meanwhile, 2 soldiers embraced Shahadat during the ongoing offensive. According to FC media cell, terrorists attacked [a] military check post in Mulla Syed area of Bajaur Agency, which was effectively responded, killing 10 militants. Moreover, armed forces held 3 terrorists. On the other hand, troops killed 2 militants in Mohmand Agency. Terrorists attacked security forces with rockets in Dogar area of Kurram Agency, resultantly killing a civilian. In addition, forces detained 8 suspected militants in District Dir, while area's national jurga backed the ongoing military search operation. [end]

01.29.10 Bin Laden deplores climate change

January 29 - Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, has condemned the US and other industrial economies, holding them responsible for the phenomenon of climate change. In an audio tape obtained by Al Jazeera, bin Laden criticized George Bush, the former US president, for rejecting the Kyoto pact and condemned global corporations. "This is a message to the whole world about those responsible for climate change and its repercussions whether intentionally or unintentionally  and about the action we must take," bin Laden said. "Speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury - the phenomenon is an actual fact."

The tape follows one released earlier this week in which the al-Qaeda leader praised a Nigerian man accused of a failed attempt to blow up an airliner heading for Detroit on Christmas Day...In the new recording, bin Laden said: "Noam Chomsky [the US academic and political commentator] was correct when he compared the US policies to those of the Mafia. They are the true terrorists and therefore we should refrain from dealing in the US dollar and should try to get rid of this currency as early as possible.
[Full story>>aljazeera.net]

01.29.10 Taliban fighters attack Afghan city

January 29 - Afghan troops, backed by NATO helicopters, have clashed with Taliban fighters after they attacked United Nations and government buildings in Helmand province, witnesses and officials said. The battle lasted eight hours after Taliban fighters launched the assault in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of the southern region, early on Friday. Provincial officials said at least five attackers were killed and four Afghan soldiers had been injured in the fighting. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said seven fighters, armed with suicide vests and machine guns, had been sent to carry out the attack. He said that 20 foreign and Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded, but NATO said no deaths had been reported on the pro-government side. [More>>aljazeera.net]

01.29.10 Yemen humanitarian crisis deepens as more flee

GENEVA (Reuters) January 29 - 250,000 now uprooted in five-year conflict: UNHCR. Fighting in northern Yemen is spreading and the five-year conflict has now driven 250,000 people from their homes, deepening the humanitarian crisis, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday. The number of displaced in the Arab world's poorest country has doubled since August when the latest round of fighting between the government and Houthi rebels erupted, it said. "The fighting has gradually moved from Saada city and its surroundings towards the northwest,"

Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told a news briefing. This had led to "a steady influx" of around 1,000 families, some 7,000 people, arriving in Hajjah province each week over the past six weeks, he said. Most families were from Saada. Fighting between Yemeni troops and Houthi rebels, who say the Zaidi Shiite minority suffers discrimination and neglect, has flared on and off since 2004 in Saada province. Aid agencies including the UNHCR and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) say that fighting prevents them from delivering aid to Saada province.

01.29.10 Suspects in Hamas man's killing identified

DUBAI, January 29 - They will be soon brought to justice with the help of Interpol, Dubai media office says. Dubai Police on Friday said it has identified the suspected killers of a senior Hamas commander who was murdered in his hotel room last week. Legal measures are being taken in collaboration with Interpol to apprehend the killers, who have since left Dubai "with European passports," a statement from the Dubai government media office said. Hamas said the Israeli intelligence unit, Mossad, was behind the assassination of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing, the Ezz Al Deen Al Qassam Brigades...Al Mabhouh had survived two Israeli assassination attempts, including an attempt six months ago to poison him in Beirut that left him unconscious for 30 hours. A Palestinian source in Damascus told Reuters that Al Mabhouh had barricaded the door of his room with chairs, a standard precaution by a man who felt that Israeli intelligence has been after him for 20 years. "An autopsy was ordered and traces of poison were found in his body," the source said. [Full story>>gulfnews.com]

01.28.10 Senate passes increase in debt limit

(AP) January 28 - Democrats pass legislation just before Republican Scott Brown takes office; measure allows debt to increase $1.9 trillion. Senate Democrats needed all the 60 votes at their disposal Thursday to muscle through legislation allowing the government to go $1.9 trillion deeper in debt. Democratic leaders were able to prevail on the politically volatile 60-39 vote only because Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts has yet to be seated. Republicans had insisted on a 60-vote, super-majority threshhold to pass the measure. An earlier test vote succeeded on a 60-40 vote. The measure would would put the government on track for a national debt of $14.3 trillion — about $45,000 for every American and it served as a vivid reminder of the United States' dire fiscal straits. [More>>cbsnews.com]

Editorial note: The public debt (national debt) is $12.3 trillion as of 1.27.10. The current fy year deficit (Oct 09-Dec 09) is $388.5 billion. Interest paid on the debt outstanding (fyOct-Dec 2009) is $145.4 billion. A large part of the accumulated public debt is interest. Using a comparable, experienced interest rate in fy2008 of ~3.8% we may expect interest payments for fy2010 to be ~ $543 billion. If the Federal Reserve increases the Fed funds rate, interest on the debt will, of course, be more. Maravot News "National Debt.html" prepared tables over the years tracking the public debt as reported by the US Treasury department. Maravot News 8.08.09 article 8.06.09 US treasurys fall as Government announces record US $75b auction Editorial note said:

"The National Debt (Public Debt) as of 8.04.2009 is $11.659 trillion. If the US Treasury were to increase rates to 5%, to make the bonds more attractive, interest on the $11.6 trillion would be $580 billion (Prior to the economic collapse interest on the US debt ranged about 4-5%.)...The US treasury's monthly statement for June 2009 shows the current deficit at $1.086 trillion (Receipts $1.588 trillion; Outlays $2.674 trillion)."

Clicking on this link from 8.08.09 will result in the Treasury's December 2009 report. The Treasurydirect.gov history of the public debt for fy 2009, as of !0.01.09, shows $11.9 trillion. The public debt has increased from Oct. 1, 2009 - Jan. 27, 2010 about $400 billion ($11.9 to $12.3 trillion).

Mel Copeland

01.28.10 State of the Union: Highlights, reactions, analyses

WASHINGTON, January 28 - Citing a "deficit of trust" in government by the American people, President Obama's first State of the Union address urged Congress to erode the influence of special interests and work together to confront the nation's most pressing problems. In the nationally televised speech Wednesday night to a joint session of Congress, Obama sought to reassure Americans angry and nervous about the pace of economic recovery that his government understands the challenges and would act boldly to meet them. Obama called for a new political climate of "common sense" approaches that invest in the American people without building "a mountain of debt." [More w/ video>>cnn.com]

01.28.10 Saudi Arabia sets conditions for Afghan role

LONDON (Reuters) January 28 - Saudi Arabia will only take part part in Afghan peace efforts if the Taliban denies sanctuary to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and cuts ties with militant networks, the kingdom's foreign minister said on Thursday. "Unless the Taliban give up the issue of sanctuary (to Osama bin Laden) I don't think the negotiations with them will be possible or feasible to achieve anything," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in London. "We have two conditions that the request comes officially from Afghanistan and the Taliban has to prove its intentions in coming to the negotiations by cutting their relations with the terrorists and proving it," he said. Earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Saudi Arabia, which has hosted talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in the past, to help bring peace to Afghanistan. [>khaleejtimes.com]

01.28.10 US: Key al-Qaeda leader killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) January 28 - A key al-Qaeda in Iraq figure involved in smuggling hundreds of suicide bombers across the border from Syria has been killed in a raid in northern Iraq, the US military said Thursday. The military called the death a blow to the insurgent organization in Iraq, though acknowledged it remains very much capable of carrying out well planned, coordinated assaults with large body counts. Attacks against three hotels and a police crime lab in Baghdad this week killed dozens. Though past claims by US and Iraqi officials to have captured or killed key al-Qaeda operatives have proven wrong, the US military said it had confirmed the identity of the body of the operative through fingerprints and other means.

The man was identified as Saad Uwayid Obeid Mijbil al-Shammari, also known as Abu Khalaf, the military said in a statement. Abu Khalaf was killed Jan. 22 during a joint US-Iraqi raid in the northern city of Mosul, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Syrian border. He was killed after he broke free from his restraints and attacked his guard, the military said. He was believed to have been moving foreign fighters across the border since 2006, the same year a US airstrike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

01.28.10 China mulls setting up military base in Pakistan

bEIJING, January 28 - China has signaled it wants to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan. The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (So) it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad," an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. "It is our right," the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan. "As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests," it said. A military base in Pakistan will also help China keep a check on Muslim Uighur separatists fighting for an independent nation in its western region of Xingjian, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Beijing recently signed an agreement with the local government of NWFP in order to keep a close watch on the movement of Uighur ultras. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

01.28.10 Four militants killed in SWA search operation: ISPR report

WANA, Pakistan, January 28 - Four militants were killed in an action in South Waziristan as part of the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat. According to ISPR, on Jndola Sector, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation and cleared area up to Ziaratzai near Ahmedwamand Tapar Punga near Nanu and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition. Security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation at Ziaratzai Top near Ahmedwam and killed 4 terrorists. On Shakai Sector security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Darakai, Tarakai, Khanzirai, Manzai and cleared [a] number of compounds and [a] cache of arms and ammunition were recovered.

Terrorists fired on security forces check post at Tarkai Sar near Ladha which was effectively responded [in the] Razmak Sector. Security forces are consolidating their positions in the Razmak Sector. In Operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat-Malakand, security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Bari Kot, Chakdara and Mam Derai and apprehended 7 suspected terrorists. Security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Allah Dand, Zulam Kot and Mangora and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunitions. One terrorist voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Kalakot. In total 30,768 Cash Cards have been issued to displaced families of Waziristan.
[>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, January 28, "9 militants killed in Bajaur clashes"
: Khar, Pakistan - Nine militants were killed in fresh clashes with security forces in Bajaur Agency, sources said on Thursday. While three soldiers sustained injuries in the fighting. According to sources, fierce clashes took place between security forces and militants in Salarzai's areas of Malasyed and Chenar, in which nine militants were killed. On the other hand, a tribal jirga announced to fully back the security forces in Salarzai tehsil. [end]

01.28.10 Abbas: Palestinians will accept only Jerusalem as our capital

January 28 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Thursday that Palestinians would not accept any alternative to Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, despite other proposals. Abbas told Russian television that Jerusalem should not be divided and that there should be free passage for people of various faiths. The Palestinian leader added it must be made clear what belongs to the Palestinians and what belongs to Israel. Abbas said that he could only recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the framework of a conclusive peace agreement that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Abbas also said that he could not agree to resume the stalled peace negotiations with Israel as long as construction in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem continue. The peace process would collapse after the first meeting of such negotiations, said Abbas. "If Israel says in the meeting that it will not accept the 1967 borders and that it is not prepared to discuss Jerusalem and the refugee situation, what is there to talk about?" Abbas said in the interview. [More>>haaretz.com]

01.28.10 Iran executes two over poll unrest

January 28 - Iran has hanged two men over widespread protests that followed the country's disputed presidential election in June last year, an Iranian news agency has said. "Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour whose cases were confirmed by a Tehran appeals court were hanged on Thursday morning," the ISNA news agency said. The pair were convicted of being "Mohareb" or enemies of God, and members of the Kingdom's Assembly, an outlawed pro-monarchist group and the People's Mujahideen, a religious movement. They were also charged with plotting to topple the Iranian government, ISNA said quoting officials. The executions were the first carried out for election-related incidents.

'Show trial'

Iranian authorities arrested around 4,000 protesters including journalists and reformist politicians in a massive crackdown in the weeks after the disputed election. The two were among 11 people sentenced to death on similar charges in the wake of post-election protests. But Nasrin Sotoudeh, Rahmanipour's lawyer, denied that her client had any role in the post-election disruption. "He was arrested in Farvardin [the Iranian month covering March-April] before the [presidential] election and charged with cooperation with the [monarchist] Kingdom Assembly," Sotoudeh told AFP. She also said she was prevented from representing Rahmanipour at his "show trial" in July and that many of the charges were brought against him when he was a minor. "He confessed because of threats against his family," she said, adding that she was shocked at the news of the executions since she and her client's family had still been waiting for word from the appeals court.
[More>>aljazeera.net; See other details,

thejakartapost.com, January 28, "Iran hangs 2 for allegedly aiming to topple state"
: ...state media depicted the two as part of the protest movement, a sign of how the government has used the crackdown on the unrest to pursue other enemies, lumping them in with the political opposition. The media's depiction of the executions may aim to intimidate the opposition ahead of new street demonstrations expected in February. In a further move likely aimed at cowing protesters, Tehran's prosecutor announced that five people have been sentenced to death for involvement in the most recent major demonstration, on Dec. 27.

01.28.10 Haiti government gets 1 penny of US quake aid dollar

WASHINGTON, January 28 - Less than a penny of each dollar the US is spending on earthquake relief in Haiti is going in the form of cash to the Haitian government, according to an Associated Press review of relief efforts. Two weeks after President Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti earthquake relief, US government spending on the disaster has nearly quadrupled to $379 million, the US Agency for International Development announced Wednesday. That's about $1.25 each from everyone in the United States. Each American dollar roughly breaks down like this: 42 cents for disaster assistance, 33 cents for US military aid, nine cents for food, nine cents to transport the food, five cents for paying Haitian survivors for recovery efforts, just under one cent to the Haitian government, and about half a cent to the Dominican Republic. Relief experts say it would be a mistake to send too much direct cash to the Haitian government, which is in disarray and has a history of failure and corruption. [More>>japantoday.com]

01.28.10 Saudis to regulate 'chaotic fatwas'

January 28 - Radical Islamic decrees out of hand in Saudi Arabia, religious authorities say. Saudi authorities are planning to regulate the issuance of Islamic rulings by limiting the number of people allowed to formulate religious decrees. The plan is currently being discussed by the Higher Council of Religious Scholars and could be implemented as early as next month...Opposition groups within are saying that allowing only a select few to issue Islamic religious opinions stifles pluralism of opinion and goes against the spirit of Islam...Those in favor of regulating these edicts say there is ‘fatwa chaos’ where anyone can issue opinions, which often serve narrow interests, be they related to politics, security, commerce or a social interest. [Full story>>jpost.com]

01.27.10 King calls for 'radical' banking reform in UK

January 27 - Governor of the Bank of England says breaking up banks should be considered. The Governor of the Bank of England has called for a "radical" overhaul of the banking system in Britain, which could include a break-up of the banks, and praised President Barack Obama's controversial plan to take on Wall Street. Mervyn King told MPs yesterday that "we have to reform the financial system" and warned that if anything less than extreme measures were taken "we are doomed to make the same mistakes on a bigger scale." MPs on the influential Treasury Select Committee are looking at whether financial institutions should be too important to fail, and whether they should be split up. Mr. King said while it was not up to the central bank to decide, he would "like to see a world in which there are more, probably smaller, banks which specialist in different activities." He added: "It might well be that the right method of getting the firewalls is indeed to break them up, I don't rule that out." [More>>independent.co.uk]

01.27.10 Geithner slammed for defending AIG bailout

WASHINGTON, January 27 - Lawmakers pummel treasury secretary for his role but he says consequences of not acting "would have been catastrophic." Democrats and Republicans alike pummeled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday over his role in the $180 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG Inc., venting public anger over Wall Street's return to prosperity while 10 percent of Americans are still jobless. Geithner, one of the original architects of the government's 2008 response to the financial crisis as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, defended the use of taxpayer money as necessary to head off "potentially catastrophic damage to the economy." But members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hammered away at why regulators allowed American International Group to pass on billions of the bailout money to big Wall Street banks that were business partners.

"In effect, the taxpayers were propping up the hollow shells of AIG by stuffing it with money. And the rest of Wall Street came by and looted the corpse," committee chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., told Geithner. Geithner clearly was getting no cover from committee Democrats on the day that President Barack Obama was to give a State of the Union address intended to assure Americans he shares their economic priorities. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, suggested Geithner was more beholden to banking interests than to taxpayers at the New York Fed and cut him off abruptly when he tried to deny it. Kaptur later called Geithner's performance weak and said it showed that "he shouldn't have been appointed in the first place." She said in an interview that he should leave the administration "but removing him would be an empty change without eliminating the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street."

01.27.10 Pig heads left at Malaysian mosques

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 27 - Worshippers found severed heads of pigs at two Malaysian mosques Wednesday following a spate of firebomb attacks on churches amid a dispute over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians, officials said. It was the most serious incident to hit Islamic places of worship following vandalism and other assaults at 11 churches, a Sikh temple, a mosque and two Muslim prayer halls across the Muslim-majority country in the past three weeks. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims. The attacks followed outrage among Muslims over a Dec. 31 court verdict that allowed non-Muslims to use "Allah" as a translation for “God” in the Malay language. Many Malaysian Muslims believe the word should be exclusive to their religion, and that its use by others could confuse some Muslims and even lure them to convert.

...The tensions center on a court dispute in which the Herald, a newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, argued it has the right to use the word "Allah" in its Malay-language edition because the word predates Islam and is used by Christians in other predominantly Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Indonesia and Syria. The High Court ruled last month in favor of the Herald, overturning a years-old government ban on the use of the word in non-Muslim publications. The government has appealed the decision.
[Full story>>japantoday.com]

01.27.10 DPRK fires artillery again: Yonhap

SEOUL, S. Korea, January 27 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired artillery Wednesday again toward waters north of the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea, only hours after the first firing, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported quoting an unnamed government source. The DPRK started firing scores of artillery around 3:25pm local time (0625 GMT) shells into waters near the contentious sea border called Northern Limit Line (NLL) off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, within the range of no-sail zones designated by the DPRK a day ago, according to Yonhap. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

01.27.10 Two German diplomats held in Iran Ashura riots

TEHRAN, January 27 - Diplomats arrested last month: state television. Iran arrested last month two German diplomats for allegedly having a hand in riots during the Ashura commemorations, state television said Wednesday quoting a top official. "A deputy intelligence minister announced the involvement of German diplomats in the riots during Ashura," ISNA news agency said. The story was also reported by the semi-official Mehr News Agency. "Two German diplomats using fictitious names of Yogi and Ingo were arrested," during the Shiite commemoration of Ashura, the website of state television also said quoting an unnamed deputy intelligence minister. But the report did not specify whether the diplomats were still in detention. A spokesman for the German embassy in Tehran when contacted told AFP that he "cannot comment" on the reports of arrests. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.27.10 Moscow dismayed by Iran's reaction to nuclear proposals

LONDON (RIA Novosti) January 27 - Russia is disappointed with Iran's failure to react "constructively" to the proposals made by a group of international mediators on Tehran's nuclear program, the Russian foreign minister said Wednesday. "We have agreed to continue working toward a positive reaction [from Iran] to these proposals," Sergei Lavrov said. He offered no indication as to the specific nature of Iran's reaction. However, he warned that "it is impossible to wait forever" and that Russia's partners "are already talking about the need to discuss further steps at the UN Security Council." Mediators from the Iran Six - Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany - are currently discussing the transition from talks to new sanctions in response to Iran's refusal to fold its controversial nuclear program. [More>>en.rian.ru]

01.27.10 14 militants killed in Bajaur Agency

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 27 - Fourteen militants have been killed in a security force's action in Bajaur Agency while one soldier embraced shahadat. Three children were killed in a bomb blast in Dirbala. Twelve militants were killed in a clash between militants and security forces and national Lashkar in Tehsil Salarzai of Bajaur Agency while one security man was martyred. Two militants were taken out when security forces pounded parts of Tehsil Mamond while three children were killed when a bomb went off in a crop field in Dirbala. Two terrorists were apprehended along with a vehicle in Central Kurram of Kurram Agency. [>thenews.com.pk]

01.27.10 Car bomb hits central Baghdad, killing at least 18

(AP) January 27 - Strike against a police crime lab in central Baghdad comes a day after several hotels were hit by suicide attacks. A suicide car bomber killed at least 18 and injured dozens more Tuesday in a strike against a police crime lab in central Baghdad, a day after several hotels were hit by suicide attacks, officials said. Rescue crews are still combing through the rubble looking for casualties. Officials say the majority of those killed were likely police officers who worked in the forensic investigation office at Tahariyat Square in the central neighborhood of Karradah. At least 82 people were reported injured. This week's bombings — all against prominent and heavily fortified targets — dealt yet another blow to the image of an Iraqi government struggling to answer for security lapses that have allowed bombers to carry out a number of massive attacks in the heart of the capital since August. Police and hospital officials said the bomber in Tuesday's attack tried to drive a pickup truck through a checkpoint and blast walls protecting the forensic evidence office. Among those confirmed killed were 12 police officers and six civilians who were visiting the office. Officials said more than half the wounded were police. [More>>jpost.com]


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